Make sure your spouse is not an ‘accidental’ beneficiary

One element of a divorce that may be lost in all of the emotional trauma and other legal dealings is the effect of a divorce on a will, life insurance or other estate plans. While it is likely that creating a child custody or parenting plan or dealing with issues related to child support may take much of your attention, you should not ignore these other aspects of your divorce.

If you have young children, it is not surprising that the parts of your divorce that deal with their custody arrangements and how their time will be split between you and your spouse will monopolize much of your attention. The details of your parenting plan are very important to raising your children and will also govern much of your interaction with your former spouse. Issues related to matters like life insurance and wills may seem distant and far less pressing.

After all, you don’t expect to need to use those instruments anytime soon, as you may only be in your 20s or 30s. Nonetheless, you and your attorney should review all of those documents in addition to your working on divorce agreement.

It is easy to forget about something like changing a beneficiary designation on a life insurance plan. Failing to change this could allow your former spouse to receive the proceeds of a life insurance payment, which may no longer be your wish.

In Missouri, as in most states, your will is revoked by your divorce, so you should use this time to revise that document and replace it with one that matches your new post-divorce situation. You may also need to change any related documents, such as powers of attorney, as you probably do not want your former spouse to have access to your bank accounts should you become incapacitated.

Of course, if your divorce settlement will require that you or your former spouse maintain life insurance for the benefit of the other or your children, you should ensure that those policies have been created and funded.

In such a circumstance, you should also see that the policy contains a provision that you receive notice of the payments and are alerted to any nonpayment or changes in beneficiary status.

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